In thinking about this month’s issue, it dawned on me that our theme of Conscious Caregiving ideally describes a universal state of being that transcends the world’s dailyness. After all, we are created to seek and have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in every waking moment. Such traits manifest as our very nature and exercised in greater or lesser degree, define who we are and how we interact with one another and the world. Each babying step gives meaning to and expresses the concept of “care”.
Caregiving is something that good people naturally do all the time: We smile and ask how another is doing. We compliment grocery checkers and tip restaurant wait staff. We give all the change we have in our pockets or car to the homeless person standing at the corner. We graciously allow the hurried driver to merge or take a handy parking slot. We kindly listen to a lengthy story from a neighbor, acquaintance or relative when we would rather be on our way. We stay late at work to help a secretary finish getting a big box of mail ready to drop off at the post office. We cut a neighbor’s overgrown yard. We ask a debtor that is late with a scheduled payment if there’s something we can do to help.
Such acts of caring for others turn out to be a great form of self-caregiving, as well. It feels good to be who we are when we’re on a tenderhearted track. Sometimes we’re called upon to amp up our nurturing of a family member that has special need of our care. Sooner or later, many of us may find ourselves taking responsibility for a loved one suffering from an illness or issues associated with aging.
Ayala relates, “Family is very important to me. I have many cousins, aunts and uncles. My people and our ways nourish me. Family keeps me grounded.” A member of the Yaqui people of southern Arizona, Ayala began as one of the new generation of Native Americans making a career performing classical music. But more than a trained musician who faithfully plays the canon, Ayala contributes panache and verve in his guitar performances.
In her feature article, “Conscious Caregiving: Nurture Yourself While Helping Another,” Deborah Shouse offers practical ideas for doing it well. Even though being a care partner may feel like a burden for some, with an awakened approach, it can be a more enjoyable and rewarding process than we could ever imagine, both for those receiving care and for those giving it.
Ayala’s devotion to music has carried him past many obstacles. Raised by his grandmother on the reservation, he was instilled with a loving discipline of working at something until it becomes play.
Other articles related to our second theme of Yoga also may be helpful in revealing another new path of self-care, not only through physical fitness, but through gentle introspection and growing self-mastery. You’ll find many ways to nurture yourself and your loved ones throughout this issue. Our contributors recognize that when we care for ourselves, we are better equipped to be there when others need us. Such self-care reflects a self-love that ripples out to bless all we encounter.
I hope you find this whole issue inspiring. We all can use some nurturing, so please pass along a copy to family and friends, and let’s start a habit of improved caretaking for everyone.
Bernice Butler, Publisher